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Hulu, the free TV and movie site that has blown up in popularity over the past two years, is currently beta testing its new, premium service. By invitation only, users can see what it’s like to view Hulu premium content, in HD, on their televisions. PS3 owners have to have a Playstation Plus subscription to get in on the beta action. Contrary to rumor, however, users will not need Playstation Plus to view Hulu Plus once it’s launched—whenever that is. It was supposed to be this month, but no date has been given.
Hulu Plus offers greater depth and breadth of content that its online counterpart. While often only the five most recent episodes of currently running shows are available online, the premium service will make whole seasons of shows available.
Who exactly is beta testing this thing? Either the testers are so cutting edge that they are over Twitter, or they are just so flooded with amazing content they can’t take time out to share with the world. There are lots of Tweets out there saying things like, “Hey, Hulu, where is my invitation?” (You can request an invitation on Hulu's website.)
There is a demo of Hulu Plus being used on an iPad at technobuffalo.com. The interface looks just like old school Hulu, with commercial breaks indicated along the progress bar at the bottom. Yes, that’s right, you still have to watch commercials.
The Hulu website offers a minute and a half video explaining that Hulu Plus is available now for the iPhone and iPad, and will soon be available for PS3, in addition to Sony and Vizio TVs, Samsung Blu-Ray players and Xbox. It also mentions other devices not yet announced. No date is given for PS3. (For Xbox it says early 2011.)
This introductory video hasn’t exactly received a warm reception in the week it has been up. The comments section is filled with disgruntled voices, with complaints ranging from cost to lack of availability for Android. User Dalton Bateman points out that he can already watch movies and TV on his PS3 without commercials.
So is Hulu Plus going to appeal to PS3 users? A counter argument to the above is that, with more and more uses possible, the PS3 could eventually replace people’s home computers and cable/satellite subscriptions. $9.99 a month isn’t looking so bad from that angle.
Not every network (looking at you, CBS) has agreed to put its content on Hulu. Right now, Hulu carries a lot of content from its parent company, NBC, as well as Fox and ABC and a spate of cable networks. Content reported to be available for viewing via PS3 includes current shows like Glee and The Office, fanboy favorites like Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and… Ally McBeal. That last one probably doesn’t have the same appeal for the PS3 crowd. But, who knows what we’ll be watching or how we’ll be watching it a month, a year, or a decade from now? Viewing experiences change as fast as technology.